Many Swiss universities received awards of international student satisfaction, confirming that studying in Switzerland could be one of the best choices you have ever make.
Switzerland has three widely spoken official languages (French, German and Italian), meaning you will have the opportunity to experience a complete European atmosphere and culture in one relatively small country and enrich your language skills as well.
Applying for studies in a university in Switzerland is really easy, you just have to remember some essential tips.
Before you apply
Switzerland provides a variety of study options, many of them highly focused on research. Choose your degree after you collect all relevant information.
Check the exact entry requirements for each degree programme, as there are often specific admission criteria for medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine degrees.
Look for scholarship opportunities in Switzerland.
Qualifications not recognised by most Swiss universities
- You should be aware that some qualifications are not recognised by most Swiss universities, such as:
- Distance education certificates, night school certificates and certificates not attained in a school class
- Certificates from vocational or part-time high schools and schools offering vocational training as well as general education
If a credential or qualification is not recognised, you will have to pass the full Swiss (or cantonal) maturity examination. This is mainly the Swiss equivalent for international baccalaureate, based on a specific curriculum (seven key subject areas studied by all students), depending on each Swiss canton.
Steps of the application process
- Complete the online application form from the website of the university.
- Pay the application fee.
- Upload all the supporting documents before the deadline.
Switzerland has three official languages (German, French and Italian) and the language of instruction depends on the university. In addition, most universities also offer a wide range of programmes taught in English. Most international students apply for either English, French or German taught degrees.
Accepted evidence of proficiency for each language are:
German: DSH, TestDaF, OSD, telc and others
French: DELF or DALF
English: IELTS, TOEFL
If you dont hold a language certificate, you can take a language test at the university and they can decide if you level is sufficient for you to complete your studies. This option is not available within all universities, so first check with the institution.
Required application documents for a Swiss university
- A signed printout of your application form
- Two passport photos
- Copy of identity document
- Official academic transcript(s) from each university you attended
- High school diploma or Bachelor diploma
- Language proficiency certificates (German/French/English)
- Evidence of payment of the application fee (100 150 CHF or 400 CHF for late applications)
- Personal essay/Motivation letter
Additional documents for students who apply to a doctoral programme:
- A letter from an instructor of the faculty who is approved to direct doctoral dissertations, and who agrees to overlook your research
- If you are in your final year at secondary school and have not yet received your diploma, you may apply based on your grades over the year, but you have to send copies of your final exam results as soon as you have them
- All certificates and transcripts that are not in English, French, German or Italian must be translated into English or French by a certified translator. Along with the translation, some universities will demand an official document from the school or university that you attended, with an explanation of the grading and assessment system.
Deadline for application at Swiss universities is variable, depending on each university and sometimes it also depends on your qualifications or if you need to apply for a student visa. Students are usually advised to submit their application in the spring semester for studies beginning the following academic year.
- Fall semester: 1 December 30 April
- Spring semester: 1 May 30 November
- If a visa for Switzerland is required, following deadlines are recommended:
- Fall semester: 1 December 28 February
- Spring semester: 1 May 30 September
In some cases, application for PhD candidates have different deadlines:
- For the fall semester: until October 15
- For the spring semester: until March 31
Universities that will receive your application too late, will sign you up for the next semester.
After you receive the acceptance letter
If you need a student visa, apply for one as soon as possible as it usually takes around a month to get a response from the embassy/consulate.
All foreigners intending to study in Zurich require a residence permit, which you can obtain from the local migration office, within 14 days after your arrival to Switzerland.
Make arrangements for the health insurance policy. EU students automatically qualify for basic medical care in Switzerland with a European Health Insurance Card. EU and non-EU students can either pay for a health insurance policy from their home country before they come to Switzerland or can purchase one as soon as possible after their arrival.